oming out never ends. As you go through life and form relationships with new people, you will have to come out again and again. The process is messy, non-linear and never happens all at once.
I should know.
I didn’t tell anyone I was gay until a year after I realized it myself. I didn’t begin to tell other people until a year after that. I only came out to one person while in high school, who did not go to my school.
I actually hadn’t talked to this childhood friend in a while at that point, which taught me a lesson that I didn’t expect. It was way easier to come out to someone who didn’t know me as well — or even a complete stranger — because their reaction mattered less to me than someone I talked to every day.
Growing up, I found myself in the same difficult position as many other LGBTQ people — living with an ultra-conservative family in a Catholic community with virtually no other gay people to talk to. I went to an all-girls Catholic high school where “out” students were few and far between.
Those who had come out seemed to have much more friends than I did.
My lack of interest in boys was not enough to signify that I was gay to my high school friends. Their perception of what made someone a lesbian centered on looks and that was about it.
When I listened to the people at my lunch table talk about who they thought was “secretly gay,” their guesses consisted almost exclusively of girls on sports teams. It terrified me. I had it in my head that they would talk about this on purpose because they somehow knew about my sexuality and wanted to make me nervous. Thankfully, I’m pretty feminine so I didn’t actually register on their “gay radar” — or “gaydar” if you will.
A girl who is “secretly gay” supposedly has qualities that make her appear more masculine than others, like wearing loose clothes or little makeup. Another popular stereotype is that all lesbians play sports. Weirdly, a lot of theories on who was “secretly” gay also stemmed from the way that someone walked.
Since starting college, I have come out publicly and my high school friends have shocked me with their support. Coming out taught me a lot about forgiveness. I learned to understand that a person’s upbringing and environment can give them a certain viewpoint, but this viewpoint can change.
My family is another issue. It’s pretty obvious to them that I’m gay, but they pretend not to notice for their own sanity. As for when I will have that conversation with them, that’s a story yet to be told. I don’t let my family’s ignorance affect me too much, however. My sexuality is common knowledge to pretty much everyone who knows me. Besides, I’m writing this article, aren’t I?
The girl I was two years ago would be amazed at who I am today. I went to my first Pride parade this summer, post pictures with my girlfriend constantly and even have a super embarrassing rainbow tattoo on my ankle. Coming out is a journey that I almost didn’t think I had the courage to embark on, but I can’t imagine a life now in which I didn’t.